A veteran city firefighter's refusal to respond to the Jan. 8 shooting spree, citing "political bantering," may have slowed his Tucson Fire Department unit's response to the incident that left six dead and 13 wounded, city memos show.
The firefighter, Mark Ekstrum, retired from his 28-year career two days later, while his supervisors were still considering how to discipline him, internal memos obtained by the Arizona Daily Star in a public-records request show.
In a Jan. 9 report on Ekstrum's actions, fire Capt. Ben Williams wrote that when Ekstrum first told him he would not go out on the call, "he mentioned something about 'political bantering' and he did not want to be part of it." He said he was acting "for the good of the crew."
Williams said he told Ekstrum he could not refuse a call for that reason, and then talked to the firefighter privately in his office. He said Ekstrum "started to say something about how he had a much different political viewpoint than the rest of the crew and he was concerned." Despite being told that was not acceptable, Williams said Ekstrum informed him he was going home "sick," so they answered the call without him.